If a rivalry game with Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy implications wasn’t enough to get Air Force fired up, perhaps a spot in the national rankings will do the trick.
The No. 22 Falcons find themselves among the top 25 teams in the country for the first time since 2019, and they will look to keep climbing on Saturday when they face Navy in Annapolis, Md.
Air Force (6-0) moved into the rankings thanks to a 34-27 victory over Wyoming last weekend. The Falcons leaned on their rushing attack, amassing 356 yards on the ground, including a team-high 111 from quarterback Zac Larrier.
Although the win pushed Air Force into the national spotlight, coach Troy Calhoun knows his team can’t concern itself with the extra attention it’s about to receive.
“We’re on to the next practice — to learn from a game and to move forward,” Calhoun said following the victory over Wyoming. “What’s (outside noise) mean? What’s it really mean?”
The Falcons were able to erase an early 14-point deficit against the Cowboys, and that type of resiliency is something that Air Force hopes to carry into the back half of its season.
“We just know who we are. We’re going to kick you in the teeth and we’re going to go at you, every play,” Falcons running back Owen Burk said. “Good things are going to happen, bad things are going to happen, but we’re going to keep moving forward and we’re never going to quit.
“I think that’s what we’re going to do the rest of the season.”
Air Force has won its first six games for the first time since 2002.
The Midshipmen’s spirits are also high after beating Charlotte 14-0 last Saturday. Although the 49ers ran 68 plays, Navy (3-3) held them to 265 yards while snagging a pair of interceptions.
Senior quarterback Tai Lavatai lasted just one offensive drive before exiting with a rib injury, forcing freshman Braxton Woodson to step in under center. Woodson completed 5 of 14 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 58 yards on 18 carries.
With their 27-24 win over North Texas on Oct. 7, the Midshipmen have strung together back-to-back victories for the first time this season, but coach Brian Newberry understands there is plenty of work to be done if his team is going to hand Air Force its first loss.
“It’s awesome to win two consecutive league games. We got to find a way to be more consistent offensively,” Newberry said. “We’re going to have to score points to beat a team like Air Force. Everybody knows that.
“We got to go out and get better (and) put together a great plan.”
Saturday marks the 56th meeting, with the Falcons leading the all-time series 33-22. However, Air Force has struggled in Annapolis, going 9-12.
The Falcons are riding an 11-game winning streak dating back to last season, tied for the fourth-longest active streak in the country among FBS teams. It also matches the second-longest winning streak in program history.